Beverly Cleary is an author many generations are familiar with. In my generation, she may have been required reading. Or you may have simply enjoyed the characters she created. Regardless, they more than likely left a lasting impression. And while the writing was good, it was her time to pass.
Beverly Cleary Inspired Generations
Beverly Cleary is a familiar name in literature. Her work first started back in 1955 with Beezus and Ramona. What started her on the path, though, was something from her youth. “I wanted to read about the sort of boys and girls that I knew in my neighborhood and in my school,” the author once shared with NPR in 1999.
The only literature available to Cleary was written about English children. If she didn’t want to read that, the only other choice was books about pioneer children. Knowing she’d rather have material she could relate to, she gave herself a goal. And that was to write relatable children’s books that youth didn’t consider dry and uninteresting. A conversation with her sixth-grade teacher helped her keep that goal in mind.
Cleary eventually found herself the post librarian at the Army Hospital in Oakland, California. A couple of young boys once came in asking about books that had “children like us.” Realizing there were none, she made the decision to pen her first book. It became known as Henry Huggins, a story about a regular boy living on a street in Portland.
While her first book was popular, it wasn’t the main character people liked most. It was Ramona Quimby, the girl down the street from Henry, who most children wished to hear more about. And so began the first inkling of what would eventually become a popular 8 book series. The author had every faith children would continue to read. Even as technology evolved around her, she wasn’t worried. “I don’t think anything will take the place of reading,” she once said. Her spirit will surely live on in her literature and the minds of all who read it.
Beverly Cleary, the creator of the Ramona character, passed away on March 25, 2021 in her California home. She was 104 years old. What books of hers have you read? Which book is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!